With its fresh flavours and sensible pricing, Maria Elia’s Joe’s is a reinvigorated West London institution...


For a period in the late 80s and early 90s Joe’s Café was a space highly charged with monochrome flash, fashion and cool. Joseph himself sadly passed away in 2010 and Maria Elia’s Joe’s (as it’s now been reinvented), looks very different these days. The bold, silver and black Eva Jiricna interior that was immortalised in Patsy and Edina’s “Champagne for Lulu!” lunch in Absolutely Fabulous has been torn out, with only a stair rail and portholes in the doors downstairs left to remind us how beautiful it was once. It’s a less intimidating space now, with breezy, chatty service, warm leather and wood and weirdly chilly mushroom walls, but promise of more framed David Bailey photography to fix the latter.


You might miss the old look, but you certainly won’t miss the old menu. What Elia has brought to Brompton Cross is largely fantastic, and should attract an infinitely more discerning, foodie crowd. The menu is arrestingly modern with buzzwords and buzzier ingredients: Carpaccio; pearl barley; marinated beetroot… it just doesn’t get more au courant than beetroot these days. Among the starters there’s slow-braised octopus, mackerel with gooseberry chutney and a haddock (carpaccio, natch) with creme fraiche, lemon and chilli that’s the bee’s knees. It’s light but sharp, with a lot of spark.


Elia goes out of her way to create splendid plates for veggies. Her book, The Modern Vegetarian, is Quorn-free food porn for the meatless and her most interesting dishes at Joe's are alternating “Textures of…” platters of one veg done several different ways. We shared the Textures of Peas, which included a soup, a mousse, pods and an orrechiette; each emerald green, each delicious and when grouped together, pretty enough to warrant reaching for the Hipstamatic. Monkfish with preserved lemon cous cous was similarly wonderful, although the strawberry risotto with bitter radicchio was perhaps a little overly complicated with too many ingredients in the mix. Many will love it, though. Puddings are appealingly small, and big on fresh fruit. Elia’s cooking gives an overall impression of being offbeat but gently so, and full of lightness and freshness. It’s bringing culinary chic back to JOE’s, and one of London’s most enticing fashion districts, in a big way.

The ELLEuk Score

Food: 9

Ambience: 6

Service: 9

Value: 9

Style of food: Contemporary British/European

Good for: Quick bite after work; Pre-theatre; Special occasion; First date; Group dinner; Work lunch/dinner

Prices & Other Details at Joe’s

Address: 126 Draycott Avenue, London SW3 3AH

Opening times: 9am-11pm Tue-Sat; 9am-6pm Sun-Mon

Average price per person for two-course meal without wine: £23

Set menu: Lunch Mon-Fri, £15 (two courses) or £17 (three courses)

Price of bottle house wine: £21, Rodero Arneis, Vigne Sparse (white); £19 Cabernet/Malbec, Finca Los Prados (red)

Price of glass house wine: £5 (as above)

Price of glass house champagne: £11, Olivier Collin

Price of bottle house champagne: £50 (as above)

Private dining? No

Outdoor dining? No

Bar? For pre-dinner cocktails

Best table(s): The tables in the back area have less noise from the street, but can feel cut off on a quiet evening

Who goes? A very international Chelsea crowd, and of course Brompton Cross “ladies who lunch”

Nearest tube: South Kensington

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